Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why SUPERMAN RETURNS was BETTER than MAN OF STEEL ... Yep, you read that right ...

Ok, so I watched one of the more eagerly anticipated Summer films of 2013 - Man of Steel - from Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan ... Those are big names, right? Nolan rocked out the Dark Knight flicks, right? Should be GOOD, right? ... Right??

Well, as this is the SECOND time since the Christopher Reeve Superman films that they've attempted to reinvigorate the franchise, I decided to measure this new one against the widely criticized Superman Returns (2006) and see which soared higher in all the categories that matter:


Superman Return's Brandon Routh vs. Man of Steel's Henry Cavill was tough to call. Routh standing at 6ft 3, appeared a bit more "super" in stature next to the common man, but Cavill still came off as the more manly "man of steel". Being a bit more built, having facial hair, and a cooler costume made all the difference. Also there were plenty of scenes of Superman treating the U.S. Military like his "red-headed step children", showing off just how "alpha" he was.

Winner: Man of Steel

Clark Kent

This was no contest. While Routh's "floundering" CK was spot on and a zillion times better than his Superman, Cavill was completely empty throughout, not even donning the trademark nerd glasses till the last scene of the movie. His "struggle to fit in" was a joke as he had almost ZERO dialogue with anyone as just plain "Clark" for the entire 2 and half hours. Jonathan and Martha Kent, and a random priest. That's all. No single opportunity taken to develop any personality or character which is a waste, as the managing both alter-egos is one of the few things that makes Superman even interesting.

Winner: Superman Returns

Supporting Cast

Man of Steel had Russell Crowe as Jor-El and you can bet he'll deliver on everything you need him to. This time was no exception. Michael Shannon's Zod was a solid and interesting take on the character, though nowhere near Terrence Stamp's slick, calculating, and menacing Zod of Superman II. The accolades for MOS stop there though. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White? I didn't get it. All his scenes that didn't involve Lois Lane were meaningless yet there were a LOT of them, only needlessly expanding the movie's running time. Amy Adams as Lois in MOS was superior to Kate Bosworth in SR, but that's not saying much. Movie makers seem to have no idea how to cast this role anymore. Margot Kidder was perfect. Terri Hatcher was pretty damn good too. It's been nothing but a series of misses since then. On the flip-side, Superman Returns had Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. That alone gives SR the edge. His performance was magnificent and almost on par with Gene Hackman. Jimmy Olsen was an enjoyable sidekick again in SR as was James Marsden's portrayal of a "normal guy trying to compete with Superman for the affection of woman".

Winner: Superman Returns


While SR needed to drop in a lot of noticeable action filler just to try and keep viewers invested, MOS was almost the total opposite. The action was basically non-stop. It definitely filled the summer movie quota for fire, explosions, destruction and face-punching. Even characters like Jor-El and Lois got to play action hero at different times, but the best fight had to be Superman vs. Zod's henchwoman Faora. Terrific. Although at times it became a bit "Michael Bay-ish" ... Its rare to hear anyone clamoring for MORE cgi and wild reckless camera swinging, yet MOS went all in on it. Nevertheless, a superhero movie needs action and MOS gave you all you could stand, and then some.

Winner: Man of Steel


I don't know if there's an unwritten rule that -- "superhero movies NEED to be linear" ... But superhero movies need to linear. The fractured, haphazard story telling of MOS - "let's start in the past, then jump to the present, and then back to the past, and back to the present again, and then fill in any other holes with flashbacks of different points in Clark's childhood" ... only resulted in killing any momentum the film was trying to build. Trying to go "too deep" and be unnecessarily stylistic only results in clutter.

Winner: Superman Returns

Overall Ambition

MOS made a few tweaks with Superman's tale -- No mention of "kryptonite"; a female "Jenny Olsen" instead of "Jimmy Olsen", etc. Nothing unforgivable. And they added some stuff to the background story of Krypton which was cool. But what else? "Clark was bullied as a kid for being different"? Yawn. So what? "People fear what they don't understand"? Oh, THAT again? ... Who cares? ... And then -- Zod. He should NOT have been the intro villain. Its an origin story, meaning we are just getting introduced to who Superman is and his relationship with the world ... That relationship can't be illustrated by pitting him against someone who is exactly the same as him. All you get are 2 godlike powerhouses knocking each other around while humanity sits and watches like - "huh? ... Oh one of them is on OUR side?! Oh, ok. Cool." -- Bleh.

Superman Returns, to its credit, took more creative chances with its general content. Superman as kinda "skeevy", leering in windows, lusting after Lois (another man's woman)? -- A little unnerving, but hey! Why not? ... Lex actually actually (finally) engaging in the fistacuffs with Supes? -- About time! ... Ok, everybody hated "Super kid" in SR. I did too. That was horse shit, and also the story completely ignoring episodes III and IV and taking place directly following Superman II? ... Yeah. Not cool either. But still - All in all? Movie to movie?

Winner: Superman Returns

Boom. Superman Returns -- superior to Man Of Steel.

And with the final verdict for the new movie --

the rating system:

  • Loved it - one of the best movies I've seen in a long time and worth every cent of the ticket price. I can't state enough how much u need to go see this movie ...

  • Liked it - it was an enjoyable flick for the most part and I'm glad I watched it. Will I run out to buy it when released on video? ... Probably not.

  • Leave it - ranging from the truly forgettable to the "wait a minute ... that didn't make any sense" in the 1st 5 minutes after I leave the theater. Basically - a whole lotta nothin.

  • Loathed it - a movie that literally makes me ANGRY after I exit and for days and weeks after. Angry that I wasted my time and money, and angry that such a piece of shit was ever made and that people actually received payment to do so.

  • Leave it. Not "terrible", but nowhere close to "Can't miss movie of Summer 2013". Star Trek still holds that honor. But its only June, still. We'll see what happens.

    Thanks for reading! All comments, agreements, and disagreements are welcome! Would love to hear your thoughts of the film!

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    1. I liked it even though it had its flaws.

    2. Superman Returns is a better SUPERMAN movie than Man of Steel, 3 flaws that ruined MOS though its still a good movie but Lois learning Superman's Clark before he's even Superman officially just plain sucked, couldn't they wait a bit for a sequel for that? 2- Perry White coming from The Matrix :p A lot felt like Matrix on Krypton, so having the dude from Matrix in it as well was total wrong casting. 3- No Superman score, I still cannot remember the MOS score for the life of me, even watching the movie twice and no memorable Supes score is a bad thing and just felt like there was no Superman magic in the whole picture. Loved Cavil as Superman but it felt too NEW 52 which isn't that great either, can't beat classic DC Universe ;)

      Would like to point out Returns had flaws too, like the damn Super Kid and yes no punch but at least it didn't feel like a Michael Bay disaster movie and no way would Superman put anyone in danger like that, no way. Also Jor-El walking about as Crowe wasn't that great either compared to the Brando one, just no magic, was expecting a lot more, much more, I totally love Watchmen!

    3. I think they are about even in the film-making department. I'm not sure I would say HC was better built--clearly he isn't built like what we usually think of as SM (tall for one thing). The body armor suit wasn't very good either. Overall BR looks like a classic SM.

      I give the action edge to MOS, the story and emotional scene edge to SR.

    4. SR was an excellent Chris Reeve tribute. MOS was Superman: The Dark Knight Rehashed.